Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate has career day vs. hometown team
TAMPA, Fla. — With more family and friends watching him than usual, Cameron Brate had the best game of his career.
And it came on the day the player Brate has looked up to, Jay Cutler, had one of the worst games of his career.
The Buccaneers’ tight end, who grew up a huge Bears and Cutler fan in Naperville, Illinois, caught all seven passes thrown his way for 84 yards and a touchdown in Tampa Bay’s 36-10 pasting of the Bears.
On the other side of the field, Cutler turned it over four times.
“A little piece of me dies inside when Jay struggles,” Brate said. “I was rooting for him to struggle today. Against anyone else, I’m rooting for Jay. He’s my guy, I’ll stick with him.”
Brate introduced himself to Cutler after the game.
“I told him I was a big fan. He looked confused. He had no idea who I was, which was expected,” Brate said with a laugh. “I shook his hand, which was cool.”
Getting to play his hometown team meant more of his own friends were tuned in, as the Buccaneers aren’t often on television in the Chicago market.
“I haven’t opened any [text] messages or anything yet, but yeah, I kind of knew it was my chance to show my people back home what Buccaneers football is about,” he said. “I knew (the game was on in Chicago) going in, I knew I had to put on a show for them. Hopefully they enjoyed it.”
Brate attacked the seam Sunday, getting open often against the middle of the Bears’ defense.
“It seemed like we had success in the middle of the field,” he said. “We knew they were going to play a lot of 2-high safeties with man underneath and the window has got to be in the middle of the field on that. It’s a tough throw and tough catch to make, but Jameis made some real good throws to me and we found some success there.”
Late in the second quarter, Brate ran a simple post pattern and created plenty of separation from Bears safety Adrian Amos. Winston hit Brate for the 10-yard score to put the Bucs up 14-3.
“I kind of could tell before the play, I think they were a little misaligned, the Bears,” Brate said. “Those are sometimes the hardest, the ones where you know you’re about to get the ball. I didn’t trip or anything, which was good. Jameis gave me the ball, that was a big score for us.”
It wasn’t just extra family and friends paying attention. Brate couldn’t ignore that he was a popular waiver-wire addition in fantasy football this week.
“I had a lot of messages from people telling me they were picking me up in fantasy earlier in the week,” he said. “I’m happy I came through for them. I’m trying to get my ownership up a little bit there. Tell my friends they gotta get me some kickback if they win now.”
The third-year player out of Harvard didn’t break from smiling following the win, the Buccaneers’ first at home this season. He had family and friends in town to see him, but knows it was extra special to do it with so many others watching at home.
“I was such a big Bears fan growing up, and never thought I’d be at this level, really.” he said. “… Taking a step back after the game, it’s pretty cool.”